New leadership for Haywood County Schools: Finance director returns, two schools see new principals

New leadership for Haywood County Schools: Finance director returns, two schools see new principals

The Haywood County School Board approved several personnel recommendations last week that saw the return of a previous finance director and new principals for two schools.

“We had an opening for our finance director,” said Superintendent Trevor Putnam. “Finance directors are extremely hard to find, and we are very fortunate in Haywood County to be able to select Ms. Leanna Moody as our new finance officer.” 

According to Putnam there are currently three school finance directorships open across the state.

Leanna Moody has worked for the school system for 15 years and previously worked as finance director for Haywood County Schools before having to leave the post in 2020 due to health concerns.

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Leanna Moody. File photo

“Ms. Moody has been with us before in that capacity and she did a good job and we are so tickled to have her back in that role,” said Putnam.

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Directly before this appointment to finance director for the second time in her career, Moody was working at Tuscola High School.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity to return as your finance director. It’s an honor and a privilege that you’ve entrusted me with this duty once again,” said Moody. “I’m looking forward to being back in the role at Central Office and working with each of you again.” 

“Congratulations, glad to have you back,” said Chairman Chuck Francis.

With Byron Burnette leaving his post as principal at Clyde Elementary, Putnam announced Karley Wells as his replacement.

“We had a vacancy at Clyde Elementary, and I am honored to present the new principal at Clyde Elementary who has done a great job at Riverbend, Ms. Karley Wells,” Putnam said.

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Karley Wells. File photo

Prior to the new appointment, Wells was working as principal at Riverbend Elementary School and before that, assistant principal at Pisgah High School.

“I would like to extend my thanks to you for giving me this opportunity and for believing in me once again,” said Wells. “Dr. Putnam for entrusting me with our future and for being the leader that always brings up others around him.”

Wells is a product of Haywood County Schools and started her career as a teacher at Clyde Elementary.

“I’m standing here today because of my colleagues at Clyde who took this young teacher and taught me so much, the Clyde community who trusted me to educate their children and the Clyde cardinals who reminded me of my ‘why’ every single day,” said Wells. “I’m excited for the opportunity to return to the school and community where my educational career started, and I’m blessed to be a Cardinal again.” 

With Wells moving to Clyde Elementary, this left a vacancy at Riverbend Elementary School. Putnam announced that Layna Cope, who was working as assistant principal at Pisgah High School, will move into that role.

“Ms. Layna Cope has served faithfully as assistant principal as Pisgah,” said Putnam. “We are pleased to have her as our principal at Riverbend Elementary School.”

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Lanya Cope. File photo

Cope is a Haywood County native and a product of Haywood County Schools. Prior to her work as assistant principal at Pisgah High School she worked as a teacher at Tuscola High School.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity and for entrusting me as the new principal at Riverbend Elementary School,” said Cope. “Haywood County Schools holds a very special place in my heart. It’s where I grew up, found a love for learning and I got my first teaching and assistant principal position. I would not be half the leader I am today without my colleagues’ and principals’ support.”

Testing data released in 2023 showed Riverbend Elementary School to be the highest performing elementary school in the 14 counties of the western region of North Carolina.

“Riverbend Elementary is not just a school, it is a vibrant community of learners, educators and families united by a shared commitment to academic excellence,” said Cope. “I am humbled and honored to now be a part of the Riverbend community and I cannot wait to meet each one of you. Thank you again for this incredible opportunity.”

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